Sexual Tension at Work: 15 Signs and Ways to Break the Tension

Experiencing sexual tension at work can be thrilling and daunting. Here’s how you know for sure you experience it—and what to do about it.

sexual tension at work

Most people experience that weird moment at work. You know the one where you hold the gaze of a co-worker just a little too long. You feel something inside—a tingle in your stomach, a kind of nervousness that wasn’t there before. Ever felt that? You might be experiencing sexual tension at work.

Maybe you have a massive crush on a co-worker for ages and suddenly they give you lots of attention. Or suddenly your boss starts treating you favorably and you aren’t sure why.

It could be that the sexual tension is welcome and makes you want to come into work every day, or that it makes you feel uncomfortable and increasingly annoyed as you just want to get on with your job.

Is there sexual tension at work?

Of course, the work environment is a dangerous one when it comes to sex. Having sexual tension with a colleague and not knowing whether to act on it can be very disruptive to your work. It could affect your performance and lead to office gossip. Plus, if you do act on it and things don’t work out, it leads to awkwardness at best and dreadful heartbreak at worst!

What are the signs that there is sexual tension between you and a work colleague? Let’s take a look at some of them.

#1 Eye contact. One of the first signs of sexual tension at work is when you keep meeting one another’s gaze. If you find that whenever you look up one of your co-workers is there looking at you, it might be because they have a crush on you.

Do you find yourself wanting to catch eyes with a certain someone in the office? Do you look at each other for longer than normal? Perhaps you find yourself blushing and looking away, but then looking back for another glance? [Read: Hotness decoder: How to know if you’re attractive to someone]

#2 Excuses to come over. Do you find yourself making excuses to go and talk to a particular colleague, or do you find they always seem to be asking you questions or stopping by your desk for a chat? If so, the sexual tension is likely to increase.

#3 Flirty conversations. Are you always joking and having sexually charged conversations? Do they compliment you? Or make sexual innuendos? Do you find that no matter what you talk about that the conversation always turns sexual? [Read: 13 lusty signs of sexual attraction to keep an eye on]

#4 Flirty emails. Do you spend time when you should be working writing flirty emails to your colleague? This is a sure-fire sign that there is sexual tension between you. It makes it all the more intense when you see one another too.

#5 Spending lunch breaks together. Do you always go for lunch together or find time in your breaks for a quick chat? Spending as much of your free time together as possible during the work day makes it pretty clear that there is something going on between you. [Read: 15 ways to tell if a co-worker likes you]

#6 After-work drinks. If the flirting continues outside work hours, here is where things get most intense. If you often go for drinks after work together then it shows that you like one another. But also, there might be more to it than just a mild office flirtation.

#7 Other people are talking. Have you heard other people are gossiping about the pair of you? This could only fuel the sexual tension further, but be warned it means your reputation at work is being damaged.

#8 Favorable behavior. Is your colleague treating you differently to other people?

#9 Flirty touching. Do they stand behind your chair and graze your shoulder with their hands? Do your legs touch when you end up sitting next to one another? Do they give you little hugs every now and again? Being touchy feely is a sure-fire sign the sexual tension is increasing.

#10 Teasing. Teasing is just another form of flirting. If they always tease you, it’s probably because they are trying to show you they fancy you! [Read: What is flirting? The science behind this common act]

What to do with sexual tension at work

All of the above suggests that perhaps you and a colleague are flirting with one another and that the sexual tension between you is building. Deciding what to do about it can be tricky. Here are some things to consider.

#11 Are they single? It’s important to find out whether the object of your desire is actually single before you make a move. If you don’t know them that well, then try to find this out. Getting into a situation with someone already attached is rarely a good idea. [Read: 18 signs you may be in an emotional affair already]

#12 How well do you really know them? Sometimes you might think you like them but it’s really the mystery that makes it so enjoyable. If you got to know them you might not even like them at all.

#13 How closely do you work together? Do you have to see this person every day? Do you sit next to one another or work on the same team? These things are worth considering if you decide to make a move, as if things don’t work out you wish they worked in a different department!

#14 How much do you like them? Really consider how much you really like this person. Is it just a crush or are you really serious about them? Consider your feelings and then make sure they feel the same way too before you do anything. If they are just in it for the flirting or just want a casual fling, you could end up getting really hurt. [Read: Dating a co-worker: 10 biggest dos and don’ts you can’t ignore]

#15 Is it worth risking your job? Having a flirtation at work can be lots of fun and a good way to inject some excitement and intrigue into your day. This happens all too easily, especially if you don’t find your job that fulfilling.

The problem is if you act on it and then regret it, or you end up becoming a couple but then things go pear-shaped this really could put your job in jeopardy. You may simply find it too hard to keep seeing their face every day, you might feel embarrassed, hurt, rejected, angry, and so on. [Read: Sexual tension – 20 signs the urge is uncontrollably strong]

If you can’t solve your problems then your work suffers, you may end up with disciplinary action taken against you. Or you may want to leave your job because you simply can’t stand working there any longer.

This is particularly true if you end up acting on a flirtation with your boss or someone more senior than you. While totally unethical for them to use their position of power against you, this does happen all too often. You may find yourself being quietly forced out of a job that you had no intention of leaving.

[Read: Sex in the office: 14 pros & cons of banging in the workplace]

Sexual tension at work happens to lots of us. Deciding what to do about it is up to you. But it is important to recognize the signs and decide early on whether to act on it or not. 

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Bethany Locke
Bethany was born and raised in Scotland and now resides in Brighton where she lives with her partner and rather disobedient cocker spaniel pup. She works as a f...
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